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How long to defrost pork shoulder in water? (Explained)

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Always try to thaw frozen pork shoulder in the refrigerator whenever possible. It’s the safest and best option in terms of meat quality after thawing.

However, there are a few other safe ways to defrost meat. A cold-water bath is the most effective and safest method after refrigeration.

A cold-water bath can not only safely defrost pork shoulder, but it can also do so faster than any other kind of technique.

When thawing a pork shoulder normally, it thaws at a rate of about 24 hours per 5 pounds of meat to thaw. So, 10-pound pork shoulder, for example, would take about 48 hours to fully defrost like this. 

However, by using a cold-water bath, you can drastically shorten this process to an astounding 30 minutes per pound of meat.

So, using this method, you can thaw that same 10-pound pork shoulder in about 5 to 6 hours

After thawing pork shoulder (or any other type of meat) in cold water, it should be cooked right away.

Although the meat will have lost some of its quality, the flavor and freshness should remain excellent. 

You should be aware that once pork has been thawed in cold water, it cannot be refrozen.

However, depending on how fresh the pork cut was before freezing, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. 

Note that warm water should never be used. Some people believe that using warm water will speed up the defrosting process.

The hot water, in actuality, will cause the outside of the meat to warm up much faster than the inside.

As a result, the outer part of the pork may enter the danger zone while the centre remains cool.

Warm water will turn meat into a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause serious foodborne illnesses. 

Why Would You Thaw Pork Shoulder in Cold Water?

There are numerous reasons why you might want to employ this method. For starters, it enables same-day thawing and smoking. This is also a useful method if you don’t have access to refrigeration.

Lastly, it is simply faster, plain, and simple. Some people actually prefer to defrost pork in cold water every time. At this rate, you could defrost a 4-pound pork shoulder in less than 3 hours!

How Do You Defrost Pork Shoulder with Cold Water?

Defrosting meat, particularly pork, in cold water necessitates planning and maintenance.

To begin, ensure that the pork shoulder is tightly wrapped to create an airtight seal (since the shoulder is being pulled from the freezer, it should already be wrapped).

This ensures that the water has no direct contact with the meat. Vacuum seals are usually the best choice for this.

Fill the container with very cold water, making sure the pork shoulder is completely submerged.

If the pork cannot be completely submerged, you must rotate it every 30 minutes to ensure that the protruding parts do not rise past the danger zone. 

Because water will warm up in room temperature, you’ll need to drain the cooler and replace it with fresh cold water every 30 minutes.

You’ll need to do this several times until the entire shoulder has thawed out completely. If it helps, you can set a timer to alert you when it’s time to filter the water.

After it’s done, inspect the meat for any signs of spoilage. 

Can You Cook Pork Shoulder Without Defrosting?

While certain pork cuts, such as loin chops or tenderloin, can be cooked from frozen, pork shoulder cannot.

Pork shoulder is a more substantial cut with a dense centre. If you cook it from frozen, the outside of the pork shoulder will be significantly overcooked by the time the centre reaches 190 degrees (F).

Additionally, whenever cooking any kind of meat from frozen, you must extend the cooking time by 50%.

That would mean, a pork shoulder that takes 20 hours to smoke would then take 40 hours, which isn’t a realistic cooking time, as the ice would add far too much moisture.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in a hurry and need a pork shoulder ready for the smoker, the cold-water method should do the trick. This is a completely safe way to cut defrosting time in half if done correctly.

• Pork defrosted in cold water cannot be refrozen, but it can be refrigerated for up to 3-5 days depending on its freshness before freezing. 

• Never defrost meat in hot water. It will move the pork into the danger zone, creating an environment conducive to the growth of harmful bacteria.